Industry Update
External Article11 September 2020

Hotels Tout Cleaning, But Guests Say, ‘My Room Was Dirty’

Hotel companies have been promoting new cleaning initiatives for months as a way to regain traveler confidence. But guests at some hotels in the United States say they are not living up to the promises.

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In June, Charles Kunz stayed at the Westin Atlanta Airport and found "the largest cockroach I've ever seen" on his bed the next morning. The lawyer from Durham, N.C., a Titanium member of Marriott's Bonvoy loyalty program, said the insect "was the size of my pinkie. I live in the South and I'm no stranger to bugs."

In July, Jeff Coons and his wife spent three nights at the Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort in Florida. The Smyrna, Ga.-based airline product development executive and Bonvoy Lifetime Platinum member found mask usage "seemingly optional" among hotel staff, and only one hand sanitizer dispenser could be found anywhere. The toilet seat assembly in his bathroom was broken, and there was an oversized Lego block beneath a guest room chair.

Major hotel companies have been promoting new cleaning initiatives since the spring as a way to regain the confidence of the traveling public in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But some guests at hotels in the United States — including their most valuable guests, loyalty program members — say they are not living up to their promises.

Addressing the experiences described by Mr. Coons and Mr. Kunz, a spokesman for Marriott, whose brands include Sheraton and Westin, said the company "has had a longstanding reputation for high standards of hotel cleanliness." The spokesman, John Wolf, said these standards have been enhanced multiple times since the pandemic began, adding that in the "rare" case a hotel does not comply with them, Marriott works to "reinforce" them.

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